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  • My brother will call Norman ^ and John, no doubt, will call June.

Do you put a comma, a semicolon, or nothing in place of this mark "^"? This sentence is from a grammar book, and you only have three options: use a comma or a semicolon, or don't put anything in place of "^".


The conjunction "and" would call for a comma, but the short phrase " no doubt" makes me think of a semicolon.

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  • I put nothing there. The no doubt clearly references John and breaks the Norman and John connection as combined actors.
    – EllieK
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 17:58

2 Answers 2

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A comma is workable. I personally would be inclined to use a dash, but that is perhaps less common. I believe that a semicolon should not be used unless the "and" is removed, as a semicolon is not used before a conjunction.

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  • Here is an earlier answer to a similar question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/121809/… Googling semicolon before and would indicate that there is a difference of opinion on its use before a conjunction. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 23:27
  • I would use a semicolon, as suggested in earlier answers and some style guides. There's obviously room for disagreement. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 23:37
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    @Khaled "most suitable" is something of a judgement call. No one would argue that a comma was wrong. I think a dash better expresses the greater separation between the two parts of the sentence.If a semicolon is considered acceptable, it would also indicate that, but in my view not as well.. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 23:40
  • @Khaled When taking tests from a book one must follow the book's rules, but when writing for oneself, there is more flexibility, and that is what may answers are based on. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 23:51
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To answer the question as you asked, the only acceptable punctuation that I would consider is a comma. This is not a list, or anything like that, so I would not consider a semi-colon to be normal usage.

However, if I was writing this myself, I would probably write: "My brother will call Norman. John, no doubt, will call June."

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    Your comment should have been part of the question. How are we to know that "there are only three options?". People can only answer the question that you ask.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 23:44

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